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Lifetime involvement rewarded with another Group 1

4 min read
Christopher Grace, breeder of G1 Kennedy Mile star Shillelagh, made his first racing headline more than half a century ago and he’s still going strong.

Back in 1962, the then 21-year-old went to the National Yearling Sales, then held at Trentham, and paid the top price of 2300 guineas to purchase a filly by champion stallion Le Filou (FR) (Vatellor {FR}) out of Te Awa (NZ) (Foxbridge {GB}).

Named Hakawai (NZ), she won seven races including the G3 Wakefield Challenge S., as a 2-year-old in the hands of the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame trainer, the late Bob Skelton.

Group successes

She has served Grace so well and his 2014 G2 Wellington Cup winner Graphic (NZ) (Volksraad {GB}) was an eighth generation descendant of Hakawai. He also bred the 1992 G1 Telegraph H., winner Morar (NZ) (Otehi Bay) from the family.

The Hunterville-based Grace and his wife Susanna made another inspired purchase at the 2001 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale when they secured Trocair (Flying Spur).

Christopher Grace

“Roger James sorted her out for us and she only won one race, but she’s been a very good broodmare.” - Christopher Grace

“Roger James sorted her out for us and she only won one race, but she’s been a very good broodmare,” Grace said.

Trocair has developed a special affinity with Savabeel (Zabeel {NZ}) and their first mating produced the G2 Brisbane Cup winner and G1 Caulfield Cup placegetter Tullamore (NZ).

They subsequently hit the jackpot on a return to Waikato Stud’s champion stallion with Shillelagh (NZ), winner of 2017 G1 Kennedy Mile and a year on she stepped out at Flemington on Saturday to triumph in the G1 Empire Rose S.

“We’ve had some good ones along the way, but she’s by far the best we’ve ever had.” - Christopher Grace.

“It’s wonderful to have a mare like her. We’ve had some good ones along the way, but she’s by far the best we’ve ever had,” Grace said.

“We’ve still got Trocair, she slipped to Savabeel during the winter and was served by him on Friday.

“She’s been to three other stallions, but the nick with Savabeel has been something special and we’re also breeding from two full-sisters to Shillelagh.”

They are the winners Galway (NZ) and Irish Dream (NZ) while another sibling is the Listed Spring Classic winner Grazia (NZ).

Under the hammer

The last Savabeel filly delivered by Trocair went under the hammer at Karaka last year with Cambridge Stud principals Brendan and Jo Lindsay purchasing the now-named French Success for NZ$340,000.

French Success as a yearling

The star of the family Shillelagh transferred to Chris Waller’s stable after five wins from the Te Akau training operation at Matamata.

Under a masterful ride from James McDonald, she weaved through the field on Saturday for the eighth victory of her career.

“To win a Group 1 anywhere in the world is a wonderful thing, but particularly in Australia,” Grace said. “The breeder, the trainer and the jockey are all from New Zealand, it’s good for the nation.”

“The breeder, the trainer and the jockey are all from New Zealand, it’s good for the nation.” - Christopher Grace

Pedigree upgrade

Shillelagh’s performance has also provided a further upgrade for Lot 307 at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale.

The colt is her half-brother by Ocean Park (NZ) (Thorn Park) and will be offered under the Grace’s Surrey Farm banner. “He’s a very nice horse,” he said.

Keen interest is also expected in Lot 51, a Savabeel colt out of the two-time Listed winner Hinemoa (NZ) (Elusive City {USA}).

The dam is from the aforementioned family of Graphic and Morar and the Group 1 performers Lady Annaliese (NZ) (Groom Dancer {USA}), Sweepstake (NZ) (Per Incanto {USA}) and O’Malleys Boy (NZ) (Dance Floor {USA}).

Watch: Lot 307 breeze up, a half-brother to Shillelagh by Ocean Park